The Internal Family Systems (IFS) model, created by Richard Schwartz, PhD, LMFT, offers a non-pathologizing and collaborative view of human cognitive, emotional and somatic life and a clear, dynamic therapeutic approach for therapist and client transformation. Drawing from general and family systems theories, IFS approaches individuals as systems made up of parts and a core Self that operate according to systemic principles. This system includes vulnerable parts that contain painful feelings and negative beliefs (referred to as “burdens”) acquired earlier in life, and parts that have taken on protective roles, which work to keep the pain of these vulnerable parts from flooding the internal system. These protective parts are responsible for maladaptive coping behaviors, and often contribute to external conflict with others. IFS helps clients to understand and work with their internal systems by developing compassionate relationships between Self and parts, relieving the burdens parts are carrying, and moving toward Self-leadership to facilitate healing.
Workshop participants will learn IFS theory and practices to use with clients, particularly those who have suffered from trauma, as well as with themselves to stay centered and open-hearted in their collaborative work. This includes recognizing therapist parts that can be vulnerable to overworking or becoming activated in session and helping those parts to relax and support the therapeutic relationship. This training uses didactic and experiential teaching methods and focuses on ways IFS techniques also fit within other therapeutic approaches.
Deborah Klinger, M.A, LMFT, CEDS-S, is in private practice in Durham, NC. She was originally licensed in California in 1994, obtained her Eating Disorders Specialist certification in 1995 and became licensed in NC in 1996. Deborah has been treating eating disorders since 1990, and has published in this area. Deborah is a seasoned presenter and an AAMFT Approved Supervisor, certified Internal Family Systems Therapist, and Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practitioner. A graduate of the Trauma-Sensitive Yoga certificate training at the Trauma Center at JRI, she teaches yoga for trauma, and her own “Love Thy Body: Yoga for Eating and Body Concerns.” She combines DBT, IFS, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, and EMDR for a holistic, body-mind approach to healing.
At the conclusion of this workshop, participants will be able to:
1. Identify and describe at least 1 principle that underlies the development of the Internal Family Systems model of therapy.
2. Discuss at least 2 basic assumptions of IFS in regard to nonpathological multiplicity of mind and the concept of “Self.”
3. Identify and describe at least 1 primary goal of IFS therapy.
4. Explain the IFS concept of Self and its role as a leader of the internal system.
5. Name and describe the 3 primary types of parts in IFS and their function.
6. Describe at least 1 way in which their own parts may be impacting the therapeutic relationship.
7. Demonstrate at least 1 method to repair rifts in the therapeutic relationship using the IFS model.
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Ginter, P., & Horneffer, K. (2006). Releasing our spirit: The internal family systems model. In K. B. Helmeke & C. F. Sori, (Eds.), The therapist’s notebook for integrating spirituality in counseling II: Homework, handouts and activities for use in psychotherapy (pp. 11-20). New York, NY: Harworth Press.
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- Schwartz, R. C. (1995). Internal family systems therapy. New York, NY: Guilford Publications. (Published in paperback in 1997.)
- Schwartz, R. C. (2001). Introduction to the internal family systems model. Oak Park, IL: Trailheads Publications.
- Scott, D. (2011). Coming Out: Intrapersonal Loss in the Acquisition of a Stigmatized Identity. In D. Harris (Ed.), Counting our Losses: Reflecting on Change, Loss, and Transition in Everyday Life (pp. 183-194). New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
- Scott, D. (2012). Grief and the Internal Family System. In H. Winokuer & D. Harris (Eds.), Principles and practice of grief counseling (pp. 184-185). New York: Springer.
- Sweezy, M. (2011). Treating trauma after dialectical behavioral therapy. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 21(1), 90-102. doi:10.1037/a0023011
- Sweezy, M., & Ziskind, E. (Eds.). (2013). Internal family systems therapy: New dimensions. New York, NY: Routledge.
Clinical Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work